The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), on behalf of the Royal Navy, has acquired its remaining AW101 Mk4/4a Merlin helicopter. This plane was a part of the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme, which entailed the improve of 25 AW101 Merlin Mk3/3a plane. Recognising the necessity to change the legacy Sea King Mk 4 Commando Helicopter, the Merlin plane had been transferred to the Royal Navy in 2014 and the airframes commenced an improve programme to grow to be the Merlin Mk 4. The plane modifications embrace new cockpit avionics, ship optimization together with a folding important rotor head and folding tail to allow the helicopters use from ships for littoral manoeuvre. Inside their new position with the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Drive (CHF), the plane are actually required to function from amphibious ships and supply a sea to shore assault functionality, typically in assist of troops from the Royal Marines. The brand new designs have geared up the plane with a folding important rotor head and a brand new tail part to offer a folding tail means – each of that are important to permit the plane to function from the brand new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers and Albion Class Touchdown Ships.

Matt Grindon, Senior Take a look at Pilot at Leonardo Helicopters UK, stated: “It was improbable to see the ultimate Merlin Mk 4 launched from the manufacturing line finishing the MLSP programme. The Merlin Mk 4 brings a serious step up in tactical prowess whereas the folding head and quick roping beam have been key to enabling CHF of their maritime position – a job that we now see deployed to nice impact throughout the globe.”


Ben Todd, VP for UK Programmes at Leonardo, stated: “Over the course of the improve programme at Leonardo in Yeovil, the brand new modified plane have been delivered to the Commando Helicopter Drive and re-integrated into frontline operations and now take their place to totally assist defence goals. They’ve seen deployment from the Arctic circle in Norway to the Center East, Caribbean and internationally launched into HM Ships.”

Royal Navy Leonardo AW101 Mk4/4a Merlin Helicopter

Colonel Mark Johnson, Royal Marines, Commanding Officer of CHF, stated:”The Merlin Mark 4 – colloquially often called the Commando Merlin – is proving to be a game-changing functionality improve for the CHF. It has already demonstrated itself to be a vital enabler of the Royal Navy’s strategic outputs – contributing to the safety of the UK and delivering the UK’s Commando Forces within the littoral. Moreover, it has already efficiently deployed throughout the globe, and in all environments.”

Adam Clarke, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, stated: “MLSP has seen business and authorities collaborate intently, working collectively to develop concepts and guarantee most functionality for mission success. The collective efforts of all stakeholders will present CHF with a high-end Merlin helicopter, with new cockpit avionics, and restricted ship optimisation, supplemented by state-of-the-art artificial coaching gear, to assist its missions.’

Key to offering a battle successful edge was the mixing of a brand new tactical processor that gives tailor-made info to the aircrew to higher perceive the tactical surroundings and enemy threats that they discover on the battlefield. Drawing from the applied sciences developed for the AW159 Wildcat plane, the system is absolutely built-in within the cockpit and will be up to date in actual time by the aircrew. The improve additionally launched a brand new Glass Panel cockpit show system with 5 separate screens permitting multi-functional shows that may present shifting maps with tactical symbology overlays, pictures from the Electro Optical Digital camera, or a learn out from the plane engine and electrical programs. As well as, the plane was fitted with a brand new quick roping beam that permits the speedy deployment of Particular Forces (SF) from the principle cabin door – subsequently this opens up a brand new SF assist position for the plane. The primary flight of the AW101 Merlin i-Mk3 befell on 24 March 2015 and supply of the primary plane befell seven months later. Preliminary Working Clearance was declared on 24 March 2016, per week forward of the scheduled date, when the seventh and remaining plane was delivered. The anticipated full operational functionality for the MLSP is in late 2024. The primary Merlin MK4 took flight at Leonardo in Yeovil on 24 October 2016.

Royal Navy Leonardo AW101 Mk4/4a Merlin Helicopter
Royal Navy Leonardo AW101 Mk4/4a Merlin Helicopter